Martyrs of Nicomedia – 8 Beati: Christians who were Martyred in succession in a single incident during the persecutions of Diocletian. First there were the eight imprisoned Christians, Domna, Esmaragdus, Eugene, Hilary, Mardonius, Maximus, Mígdonus and Peter, about whom we know little more than their names. Each day for eight days one of them would be strangled to death in view of the others so that they would spend the night in dread, not knowing if they were next. Peter was the chamberlain or butler in the palace of Diocletian. When he was overheard complaining about this cruelty, he was exposed as a Christian, arrested, tortured and executed by having the flesh torn from his bones, salt and vinegar poured on the wounds and then being roasted to death over a slow fire. Gorgonio was an army officer and member of the staff in the house of emperor Diocletian, Doroteo was a staff clerk. They were each exposed as Christians when they were overhead objecting to the torture and murder of Peter. This led to their own arrest, torture and executions. Died in 303 in Nicomedia, Bithynia (in modern Turkey) Additional Memorial – 28 December as part of the 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia. Beatified on 14 January 1891 by Pope Leo XIII (cultus confirmation).
Saint of the Day – 31 January – Blessed Louise degli Albertoni TOSF (1474-1533) Widow, Mother, Mystic, Ecstatic, Apostle of the sick, the poor, the deprived, Miracle-worker. Born in1474 as Ludovica Albertoni in Rome, Italy and died on 31 January 1533 in Rome of natural causes. Beatified on 28 January 1671 by Pope Clement X. Also known as – Ludovica, Louisa Albertoni, Ludovica Albertoni Cetera.
Louise first saw the light of the world at Rome in the year 1474. Her parents belonged to the distinguished families of this City because of their wealth but still more because of their piety. They bestowed great care upon the training of their daughter and she responded fully to their efforts, so that she developed into a model for all young women. She had resolved to remain unmarried but when her parents urged her to be betrothed to an illustrious young man, she believed she recognised the will of God in their desire and agreed to the marriage.
But even in the married state, in which she remained attached to her husband with genuine love, she sought above all things to please God. Her attire was very plain, and even away from home, she avoided frivolous pomp and luxury. God blessed their union with three daughters, whom she was careful to rear, above all, in the love and fear of God.
When Blessed Louise Albertoni was but thirty-three years old, she lost her husband to death. After her daughters were provided for, Louise thought of nothing but to dedicate herself to the service of God. Publicly she took the habit of the Third Order, practiced the severest penances and was so irresistibly drawn to the contemplation of the sufferings of Our Lord and they were so constantly before her mind that she continually wept,and it was feared that she would lose her sight.
Louise lived a pious life, working for the poor of the Trastevere neighbourhood, under the guidance of the Franciscan Friars of San Francesco Church, where she would be buried in 1533. She bore a great love for the poor as special members of Christ. She used the abundant income of her fortune entirely for their support. But she strove to conceal her liberality. With this intention she often hid pieces of money in the bread that was given to the poor at her door and then begged Almighty God that He would let it fall to the lot of such as needed it most. Her benevolence knew no bounds. Sometimes she lacked even the necessaries for herself. But then, she rejoiced to be like Christ, who, being rich, became poor out of love for men.
God repaid her with extraordinary graces. He granted her the gift of miracles and frequent ecstasy. He also told her beforehand of the day of her death.
When her end drew nigh, she received the last Sacraments with great devotion. Then gazing upon the Crucifix with the tenderest pity, she kissed it and said: “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” Thereupon she breathed forth her soul on the day that had been announced to her, which was 31 January 1533.
Her body rests in the Church of St Francis on the Tiber and her Feast is celebrated in Rome with great solemnity. Pope Clement X Beatified Blessed Louise Albertoni in 1671.
The Bernini figure of Ludovica Albertoni, above,is set above the Altar of the Altieri Chapel on the left side of the Church of San rancesco. Bernini designed an architectural setting that focuses attention on the marble sculpture, framing it within an archway he cut into an existing wall where a painting had previously hung. The main figure is flanked by deep returns set at oblique angles decorated with earlier frescoes of Saint Clare of Assisi and Blessed Ludovica herself providing alms to a beggar. The central figure is lit on both sides by large windows concealed by the returns.
The figure of Ludovica Albertoni is presented on a mattress at the moment of mystical communion with God. The folds of her habit reflect her state of turmoil and her head is thrown back onto an embroidered pillow supported by a headrest. Beneath her figure is a deeply crumpled sculpted cloth above a red-marble Sarcophagus, where Ludovica is interred. The panel behind her is carved with stylized pomegranates, flaming hearts adorn the base of the windows. She is surrounded by putti and waiting to rise to the Light of Heaven.
Saint of the Day – 9 December – Venerable Clara Isabella Fornari OSC (1697–1744) Virgin, Nun of the Poor Clares, Mystic, Stigmatist, Ecstatic, Born on 25 June 1697 at Rome, Italy as Ana Felícia Fornari and died on 9 December 1744. Also known as – Ana Felecia Fornari, Chiara Fornari.
Born in Rome on 25 June 1697, Ana Felícia Fornari entered the novitiate of the Poor Clares in Todi at the age of fifteen. Her religious life was guided by her Confessor, the Jesuit, Fr Crivelli. Taking the name Clara Isabella, she made her profession the following year, and since then her life became a series of the most extraordinary phenomena, recorded in the Beatification process and confirmed under oath by her companions, her Confessor and her doctor.
She had frequent and prolonged ecstasies; she received numerous visits from Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, St Clare and St Catherine Siena. During one of them, Jesus put the ring which symbolised His spiritual consortium, on her finger. He took pleasure in calling her “His spouse of pain .”
Clara Isabella participated, in fact, in the sufferings of the Divine Crucified: her hands, feet and side were marked with visible Stigmata, from which blood sometimes flowed. On her head was a crown whose thorns grew inwards, coming out over her forehead, falling off and falling bloodied. The tortures and demonic persecutions she suffered are reminiscent of those suffered a hundred years later by the Holy Parish Priest of Ars. Since her novitiate, the devil had tempted her with despair and suicide; then he mistreated her, throwing her down the stairs and tried to take her faith. In the last months of her life, she seemed abandoned by God, having lost even the memory of past consolations. She only regained her former joy shortly before her death, in the year 1744. A Beatification process for Mother Clara Isabella is underway.
Devotion to Our Lady of Confidence (Madonna della Confiança): The invocation of Nossa Senhora da Confiança was introduced into the Church in the 18th century by Venerable Clara Isabella Fornari, who had a very special devotion to the Holy Mother of God and always carried a painting with her, an artwork of the Madonna with the Child Jesus in her arms.
Soon several copies began to circulate in Italy. Many graces and cures were attributed to this painting and in 1917 Pope Benedict XV Crowned Nossa Senhora da Confiança canonically confirming its Title and the day of its feast – 24 February.
he picture was painted by the great Italian artist Carlo Maratta (1625-1713). In 1704 he became Court Painter to Louis XIV. It is said that the renowned artist gave the painting to a young noblewoman who became Abbess of the Convent of the Poor Clares of St Francis in the City of Todi. She is today Venerable Mother Clara Isabella Fornari.
According to the Venerable’s own words, Our Lady made special promises to her regarding this painting: “My Celestial Lady, with the love of a true Mother, assured me that all souls who confidently present themselves before this image, will obtain true knowledge , sorrow and repentance for their sins and the Blessed Virgin will grant them a particular devotion and tenderness for Her.” (This promise applies not only to the original painting, but also to all copies of it.)
One of the copies was taken to the Major Seminary in Rome, of which she became Patroness. Every year, on the 24th of February, the Pontiff himself goes to venerate her.
Among the prodigious facts that prove Her protection of the Seminary are the two occurences (1837 and 1867), when a cholera epidemic hit the Eternal City but the Roman Seminary was miraculously spared by the powerful intercession of its Patroness.
In the 1st. World War, about a hundred seminarians were sent to the battlefront and placed themselves under the special protection of Our Lady of Confidence. They all returned alive, a grace they attributed to the protection of the Blessed Virgin. In gratitude, they enthroned the blessed painting in a new Chapel of marble and silver.
Quote/s of the Day – 16 November – St Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) Virgin – “The Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory”
Daily Offering to the Father By St Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) (Attrib)
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, for those in my own home, and in my family. Amen
“I praise, adore, bless and thank Thee, to the best of my ability, for Thy wise mercy and Thy merciful wisdom! For Thou, my Creator and my Redeemer, have sought to curb my stiff-necked obstinacy under Thy sweet yoke with the remedy best suited to my infirmity.”
O Sacred Heart of Jesus By St Gertrude the Great (1256-1302)
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, Fountain of eternal life, Your Heart is a glowing Furnace of Love. You are my Refuge and my Sanctuary. O my adorable and loving Saviour, consume my heart with the burning fire with which Your Heart is enflamed. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Your love. Let my heart be united with Your Heart. Let my will be conformed to Your Will in all things. May Your Will be the Rule of all my desires and actions. Amen
Saint of the Day – 6 October – Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds of Jesus TOSF (1715-1791) Virgin, a member of the Third Order of the Friars Minor, Mystic, Ecstatic, Stigmatist, blessed with the gift of prophesy and of miracles. Recluse. Born on 25 March 1715 as Anna Maria Rosa Gallo at Naples, Italy and died on 6 October 1791 at Naples, Italy of natural causes. Also known as St Anna Maria Gallo, Maria Francesca. Mary Frances is the first woman from Naples to have been declared a Saint. Patronages – Pope Pius IX, who Canonised her, declared her to be a patroness of expectant mothers and of women having difficulty conceiving.
Anna Maria Rosa, as Saint Mary Frances was Baptised, was born in Naples in 1715 of a family that belonged to the middle class of society. Her mother, a devout and gentle woman, who had much to contend with from her hot-tempered husband, was quite worried before the birth of this child. But St John Joseph of the Cross, who lived in Naples at that time, calmed her and recommended special care of the child, as it was destined to attain to great holiness.
Anna Maria Rosa was scarcely 4 years old when she began to spend hours in prayer and sometimes arose at night for this purpose. Such was her desire to know the truths of the Catholic Faith that an Angel appeared to her and instructed her regularly. She had not yet attained her 7th year when she desired to receive Holy Communion. Her local Parish Priest marvelled at her knowledge of the Faith, as well as her ardent desire for the Bread of Angels and felt that he could not deny her the privilege. In fact, it was not long before he permitted her to receive daily.
Meanwhile, although physically of a very delicate constitution, the little saint was making herself useful to her parents by assisting them in their work. Her father, a weaver of gold lace, was anxious to have his children help as early as possible. He found that Anna Maria Rosa was not only the most willing but also the most skilled in the work.
She was 16 years old when a rich young man asked her father for her hand. Rejoicing at the favourable prospect, her father at once gave his consent. But when he told Anna Maria Rosa he was amazed to hear her, who had never contradicted him, declare her firm intention of espousing only her heavenly Bridegroom and asking his permission to become a Tertiary. He became so enraged that he seized a rope and whipped the delicate girl unmercifully, until her mother intervened. He then locked her in a room, where she received only bread and water and no-one was permitted to speak to her.
She considered herself fortunate to be able to offer her Divine Bridegroom this early proof of her fidelity – she regarded the trial as a pre-nuptial celebration. The earnest representations of a Priest made her father, who after all was a believing Christian, realise that he had done wrong and he finally consented that his daughter take the Tertiary Habit and serve God as a Consecrated Virgin at home, as was customary in those days. Filled with holy joy, Anna Maria now received the Habit and, with it, the name Maria Francesca and the Surname “of the Five Wounds of Jesus.” This name was prophetic of her subsequent life.
At home Mary Frances had much to endure. Her father never got over the loss of a wealthy son-in-law. When God favoured her with unusual graces — she was sometimes granted ecstasies at prayer and suffered our Lord’s agony with Him — her own brothers and sisters insulted her as an imposter. Even her Confessor felt obliged to deal harshly with her. For a long time she could find consolation nowhere but in the Wounds of Christ. At last her Confessor perceived that it was God Who was doing these things in Mary Frances. Since her mother had died meanwhile, he saw to it that she found a home with a fellow Tertiary. There one day, as she herself lay ill, she learned that her father was near death and she asked Almighty God to let her suffer her father’s death agony and his purgatory. Both requests were granted her.
Although she suffered continuously, Our Lord also gave Mary Frances great graces and consolations. She received the marks of the wounds of Christ and was granted the gift of prophesy and of miracles. She would wear gloves to cover the marks of the nails on her hands, while she did her work. When Pope Pius VI was crowned pope in 1775, she beheld him in a vision wearing a crown of thorns. Pope Pius closed his life 24 years later as a prisoner of the French Revolution at Valence. Mary Frances also prophesied the tragic events of the French Revolution and God heard her prayer, asking that she be taken from this world before they would happen. She died on 6 October 1791, kissing the feet of her Crucifix. God glorified her by many miracles.
Saint Mary Frances was buried in the Church of the Alcantarines, Saint Lucia del Monte, Naples, which she attended during her life, very near the tomb of Saint John Joseph of the Cross. On 6 October 2001, her remains were transferred from the Church of Santa Lucia to the house where she had spent the last half of her life. It is now the Shrine of St. Mary Frances of the Five Wounds. It is still a common practice for expectant mothers to go there to be blessed with her relic. Many votive offerings from mothers who credit her with their successful deliveries are displayed in the Sanctuary.
Devotion to our Saint has long continued in the neighbourhood where she lived in Naples and of which she is the Patron. The residents credit her intercession, with the little damage the sector endured during World War II, when over 100 bombs were dropped on it!
On 12 November 1843, Mary Frances was Beatified by Pope Gregory XVI and on 29 June 1867, she was Canonised by Pope Pius IX.
Saint of the Day – 12 August – St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) Virgin. Patronages – embroiderers, needle workers, eyes, against eye disease, for good weather, gilders, gold workers, goldsmiths, laundry workers, television (proclaimed on 14 February 1958 by Pope Pius XII because when St Clare was too ill to attend the Holy Mass, she had been able to see and hear it, on the wall of her room.), television writers, Poor Clares, Assisi, Italy, Santa Clara Indian Pueblo.
The Roman Martyrology reads today: “At Assisi, in Umbria. Italy, St Clare, Virgin, the first of the poor woman of the Order of Minors. Being celebrated for holiness of life and miracles. she was placed among holy virgins, by Alexander IV.”
St Clare, Virgin, Founder, Mystic, Miracle-worker By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888) (Excerpt)
St.Clare, Founder of the Order which bears her name, was born of rich and pious parents, at Assisi, in the district of Umbria, in Italy. She received the name of Clare, which means “clear or bright,” for the following reason. While her mother Hortulana, was kneeling before a Crucifix, praying that God might aid her in her hour of delivery, she heard the words: “Do not fear. You will give birth to a light which shall illumine the whole world.”
From her earliest childhood, prayer was Clare’s only delight. She gave to the poor all the presents which she received from her parents. She despised all costly garments, all worldly pleasures. Beneath the fine clothes she was obliged to wear, she wore a rough hair-girdle. She partook of so little food that it seemed as if she wished to observe a continual fast.
During this same period lived St Francis, surnamed “the Seraphic,” on account of his great virtues. Clare frequently went to him and confided to him, her desire to renounce the world and to consecrate her virginity to God and to lead a perfect life in the most abject poverty. St Francis who saw that besides other gifts and graces, she was filled with the most ardent love of God, possessing great innocence of heart and despising the world, strengthened her in her holy desire, while at the same time, he tested her constancy. Being sufficiently convinced that her desires were inspired by Heaven, he advised Clare to leave her home, which she did on Palm Sunday, going to the Church of the Portiuncula, where she had her hair cut off, as a sign that she would enter a religious life. She divested herself of all feminine ornament, and attired in a penitential garb, tied around her with a cord, she was placed. by St Francis in a vacant Benedictine Convent. She was at that time just eighteen years of age.
When her parents heard of what she had done, they hastened to the Convent, to take Clare home, declaring that this choice of a state of life was only a childish whim, or that she had been persuaded to it by others. Clare, however, after opposing their arguments, fled into the Church, and clinging to the Altar with one hand, with the other she showed her head shorn of its hair, exclaiming: “Know all, that I desire no other bridegroom but Jesus Christ. Understanding well what I was doing, I chose Him and I will never leave Him.” Astonished at this answer, all returned home, admiring her virtue and piety. Clare thanked God for this victory and was, on account of it, all the more strengthened in her resolution.
Clare had a sister younger than herself, named Agnes. A few days later she, too, fled from her parents’ roof and going to Clare, wished to be invested in the same habit and to serve God in the same manner. St Clare received her joyfully but as all her relatives were provoked beyond measure that she, too, had entered a Convent, twelve of them went and forcibly tore her from her sister’s arms. Clare took refuge in prayer and, as if inspired by the Almighty, ran after her sister, loudly calling her by name. God assisted her by a miracle. Agnes suddenly became immovable, as if rooted to the ground and no-one possessed strength enough to drag her from where she stood. Recognising in this, the powerful hand of God, they opposed her no longer but allowed her to return to the Convent.
Meanwhile, St Francis had rebuilt the old Church of St Damiano and had bought the neighbouring house. Into this house he placed his first two religious daughters, Clare and Agnes, who were speedily joined by others, desirous of conforming themselves to the rule of life which St Francis had given to Clare. This was the beginning of the Order of Poor Clares, which has since given to the world, so many shining examples of virtue and holiness, to the salvation of many thousands of souls.
St Clare was appointed Abbess by St Francis and filled the office for forty two years with wonderful wisdom and holiness. Her mother too, together with her youngest daughter, took the habit and submitted to the government of St Clare.
She was, to all in her charge, a bright example of poverty. In austerity towards herself, she was more to be admired than imitated. The floor or a bundle of straw was her bed, a piece of wood, her pillow. Twice during the year she kept a forty days’ fast on bread and water. Besides this, three days of the week, she tasted no food and so little on the others that it is marvellous that she could sustain life with it. The greater part of the night, she spent in prayer and her desire for mortification was so great that St. Francis compelled her to moderate her austerities.
She nursed the sick with the greatest pleasure, as in this work of charity, she found almost constant opportunity to mortify and overcome herself. Besides all her other virtues, she was especially remarkable for her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She sometimes remained whole hours immovable before the Tabernacle and was often seen in ecstacy, so great was her love for the Saviour it concealed. She sought her comfort in Him alone in all her trials, amidst all her persecutions and how great were the graces she thereby received, the following event will sufficiently illustrate.
The Saracens besieged Assisi and made preparations to scale the walls of the Convent. St Clare, who was sick at the time, had herself carried to the gates of the Convent, where, with the Ciborium, containing the Blessed Sacrament, in her hands, prostrating herself in company with all her religious, she cried aloud: “O Lord, do not give into the hands of the infidels, the souls of those who acknowledge and praise Thee. Protect and preserve Thy handmaidens whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.” A voice was distinctly heard, saying: “I will protect you always.”
The result proved that this was the Voice of Heaven. The Saracens, seized with a sudden fear, betook themselves to flight, those who had already scaled the walls, became blind and flung themselves down. Thus were St Clare and her religious protected and the whole City preserved from utter devastation, by the piety and devotion of the Saint to the Blessed Sacrament. We must omit many miracles which God wrought through His faithful servant.
[When St Clare] … had reached the age of sixty years, during twenty-eight of which, she had suffered from various painful maladies, although she had not been confined to her bed, or rather, her bundle of straw. Her patience while suffering was remarkable and she was never heard to complain.
The hour of her death drew near and she saw a great many white-robed virgins come to meet her, among whom was one who surpassed all the rest in beauty. She followed them and they led her to see the Almighty face-to face. Several who had read in the depths of her heart, said that she died more from the fervour of her love for God, than from the effects of her sickness. Her holy death took place in 1253. The great number of miracles wrought after her death, through her intercession and the heroic virtues which made her so remarkable, induced Pope Alexander IV., only two years later, to place her in the number of Saints.
Saint of the Day – 11 March – Blessed John Baptist Righi of Fabriano OFM (1469–1539) Priest, Confessor, Friar of the Friars Minor, Ascetic, Ecstatic, renowned Preacher, Peace-maker, Hermit. Born as Giovanni Battista Righi in 1469 at Fabriano, Ancona, Italy and died on 11 March 1539 of natural causes. Also known as – Giovanni Battista da Fabriano, Giovanni da Fabriano, Giovanni Righi, Joannes de Fabriano, Johannes Baptista Righi, John Baptist of Fabriano. His body is incorrupt.
John was born in Fabriano of the Righi family. From an early age, he was very obedient to the teachings he received in his family. Reading the life of St Francis of Assisi, he decided to become a Franciscan Friar. And so, in the prime of his youth, our Blessed wore the Franciscan habit in the Convent of Forano, near Rieti. After his profession, he devoted several years to the study of philosophy and theology before being Ordained a Priest. For many years he was a very obedient and humble Friar. It is assumed that the young professed went from Forano to the solitary Convent of La Romita, a former Monastery of the Camaldolese.
Giovanni spent practically the rest of his life, about fifty years, up there in Romita, sometimes dedicated to the apostolate and more often, to silence and prayer, penance, reading the works of the Holy Fathers of the Church. In the solitude of La Romita, our blessed found what his heart desired. In the Church, there was a venerable image of Jesus Crucified, which belonged to St John of the Marches – John made it the object of frequent visits, ardent prayers, profound meditations and even,, by permission of the Lord, not rare ecstasies.
Emulating his seraphic Father, he ardently wanted to unite himself to the sufferings of Jesus, to transform himself into the Crucified Love, so little loved by much of the world. He found another object that touched his heart and fueled his filial piety: a terracotta image, which represented the Blessed Virgin contemplating the Child Jesus lying on her lap and which was flanked by the figures of the Apostle St James the Greater and St Francis of Assisi. And so, the solitary devotee spent long hours at the foot of the new and captivating image of the Mother of the Lord, exchanging affections and feelings. In the evening, after the Matins prayer, when his brothers retired to rest, he remained in the choir to continue his prayers which often ended in ecstasy. exchanging affections and feelings. In the evening, after the Matins prayer, when his brothers retired to rest, he remained in the choir to continue his prayers which often ended in ecstasy. exchanging affections and feelings.
In the dense forest that surrounded the solitary Convent, there was and still is, a small cave, like a hermitage inside the hermitage, where John went to devote himself to prayer and penance . For our blessed, Heaven on earth was in his retreat and solitude. But charity and obedience required him, from time to time, to undertake long journeys.
At that time, the different lords and noble families of the region were in conflict. Society and the Church experienced the ups and downs of the progress of a rebirth in all orders. And in high society, as well as among soldiers and ordinary people, demoralisation and the decline of good manners was the norm. John was not an eloquent orator but with his simple and persuasive word he managed to touch hearts and lead them to conversion.
He embarked on long journeys with joy of spirit to pacify the belligerents or to exhort both warring parties to convert and change their lives. When he travelled, always accompanied by another friar as was obligatory, he brought with him nothing but his peaceful poverty and his firm trust in God. his word was always a warm exhortation to the fulfillment of the divine Commandments, to the frequency of the Sacraments, to love one’s neighbour, to free the world from slavery. And he spoke with such zeal and persuasion that many were converted to God, reconciled, confessed, they did penance for their sins. The fame of the simple Friar spread throughout the Marches of Ancona.
Great was the charity of John with all those who met him on his travels or with those who came to him for spiritual guidance and Confession.. But what he practiced with the Friars of his Convent was even greater. He was attentive to their wants and needs and his greatest joy was to serve the sick, giving them every care promptly and gently.
His love for Jesus Crucified, the constant object of his love and contemplation, led him to practice the austerities and penances typical of the ancient anchorites, whose writings he read with pleasure, in particular those of St John Climacus. He continually fasted on bread and water, eating only one meal a day and even less during Lent. As a true son of St Francis, he loved poverty and practiced it, contenting himself with the patched tunic and the Breviary for the liturgical praise of the Lord. His cell, later transformed into an oratory, was small and sober. Indeed, his reputation for holiness soon spread throughout the region and when our Friar travelled, sick people were brought to him even from distant regions, to bless them,and there were numerous votive offerings that were and still are displayed.
One day he was seized by a great malaise. The Friars came, gave him first aid and looked after him until it seemed to them that the danger had passed, then they withdrew . Soon after, left alone in his small cell, he fell asleep peacefully in the Lord. His body was buried in the cemetery of the Convent but, ten years later, it was unearthed, found incorrupt and placed in an urn under the Altar of the Holy Christ. And there, in the Church of San Giacomo della Romita, he is still preserved and venerated today. His cult was confirmed by Pope Leo XIII on 7 September 1903.
Saint of the Day – 7 March – Saint Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart OCD (1747– 1770) Virgin, Nun of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites, Mystic. Born on 15 July 1747 at Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy as Anna Maria Redi and died on 7 March 1770 at Florence, Italy of a severe and painful abdominal disorder, aged just 22. Also known as – Ann Maria Redi, Anna Maria Redi, Anne Mary Redi. Teresa Margherita Redi of the Sacred Heart.
The Roman Martyrology states: “In Florence, Saint Teresa Margherita Redi, a Virgin, who, having entered the Order of the Discalced Carmelites, travelled an arduous path of perfection and was struck by premature death.”
Anna was born into a large, noble and devout family in Arezzo Italy in 1747. From the earliest days of her childhood, Anna was filled with a deep love of God questioning the adults around her as to “Who is God?” Already she was dissatisfied with answers given her. Only the contemplative life of a Carmelite nun could begin to quench her thirst to know and give herself completely to God. Her entire life was driven by the desire to “return love for love.”
She entered the Carmelite convent in Florence at the age of seventeen, advanced rapidly in holiness and died an extraordinary death at twenty-two.
She was a model religious with an astonishing depth of spirituality, purity of heart, humility and ardent love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She was given a special contemplative experience of the words of St John, “God is love” and she lived in fidelity to this experience by a hidden life of love and self-gift.
Christ crucified was always in her mind, “the captain of love,” who held aloft “the standard of the Cross.” After her 1758 spiritual retreat, she proposed in all her actions not to be motivated other than by love and to unite her will with that of God. She was assiduous in small services to the sisters and would not allow gossip or criticism. She exclaimed constantly, “God is love.”. Her life was one of continuous thanksgiving, “which would prove to the person who does not believe in Him or not dare to approach Him, the goodness and generosity of our most loving God!”
Her love of God was powerfully expressed in her love for her sisters, to whom she gave herself in dedication and service. Appointed Infirmarian, she cared for the ill and elderly of her community, even the most difficult, with gentleness, equanimity, and patience.
True to the tradition of the Order, Teresa Margaret was utterly devoted to Our Lady whom she regarded as the model and protectress of her own virginal purity.
The cornerstone of St Teresa Margaret’s spirituality was to remain hidden, to appear just like everyone else’ in spite of her heroic virtue. To our loss, she has remained very much hidden even after her death. Fr Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen commented “This is an odd fact, for we do not hesitate to rank her among the primary figures who represent the glory of Carmel – among Teresa of Jesus, John of the Cross and Thérèse of the Child Jesus.”
Although St.Teresa Margaret led a life of exquisite holiness and purity, it was also a life that is whollyone of imitation. In her were combined Martha and Mary, as she served her community as a nurse in the Infirmary, while reaching the heights of contemplation. N
After her death all the swelling and discoloration in her body disappeared, her body was incorrupt several weeks later, had a healthy glow and exuded an odour of perfume. Pope Pius XI Canonised her on 13 March 1934.
Saint of the Day – 20 February – Blessed Pietro of Treia OFM (1214-1304) Friar of the Friars Minor, renowned and eloquent Preacher, Mystic and Ecstatic who levitated and experienced visions. Born in 1214 and died on 19 February 1304 at the Franciscan Convent of Sirolo, Italy.
The Blessed Pietro da Treia was born in 1214 was descend from the noble Marchionni family. From childhood he showed a particular love for the Archangel Gabriel.
After spending the first years of his youth among the riches and comforts derived from his social condition, he decided to change his life and follow a more austere evangelical life. He entered the Order of Friars Minor at a very young age. Eager to imitate the virtues of St Francis, he also materially followed in his footsteps, residing for a long time in La Verna.
Blessed Pietro da Treia spent much of his time in contemplation but he was also an active Friar, especially in the ministry of the word, as an irresistible Preacher.
He travelled the Marches, captivating the crowds with his sacred eloquence. He had the gift of moving sinners, who through a good Confession, repented offering penances for their sins and were brought back to God.
His ecstasies and visions are well-known and documented. In Ancona the Blessed Peter while he was immersed in prayer before the Crucifix, placed on the main Altar of the Church, rose from the ground in ecstasy with his whole body and went to kiss the feet of the Lord Crucified. Later in the Convent of Forano, it was Pietro who saw a wonderful scene, in which the Madonna affectionately placed the Divine Baby Jesus on the loving arms of his brother Corrado da Offida.
Blessed Pietro died in the Convent of Sirolo on 19 February 1304, at the age of 79. Pope Pius VI, on 11 September 1793 approved the cult and Beatified him..
Quote/s of the Day – 13 February – Septuagesima Sunday and the Memorial of Saint Catherine de Ricci OP (1522-1590) Virgin, Mystic, Stigmatist.
Three Points on the Spiritual Life By St Catherine de Ricci (1522-1590) 1) Detach 2) Direct 3) Accomplish
Letter to a Fellow Nun by St Catherine de Ricci
Very dear daughter, I have already sent you a letter to exhort you to the service of our Lord and now, I send you this one, in which I am going to give—first for myself and then for you—an account of the true way of faithfullyserving our Divine Spouse and a resume of the spiritual life, so that, by following it, we shall carry out the Holy Will of God.
If, then, my daughter, you would be the true spouses of Jesus, you must do His Holy Will in all things and you will do this, if you entirely give up your own will on every occasion and if you love the divine Spouse with your whole heart, your whole soul and your whole strength. Then, you must carefully attend to the following points (but it is necessary to weigh all these words), as they contain the summary of Christian perfection:
We must force ourselves to DETACH the heart and the will from all earthly love; to love no fleeting things, except for the love of God and, above all, not to love God for our own sakes, for self-interest but with a love as pure as His own goodness.
We must DIRECT all our thoughts, words and actions to His honour and by prayer, counsel and good example, seek His glory solely, whether for ourselves or for others, so that through our means, all may love and honour God. This second point is more pleasing to Him than the first, as it better fulfils His will.
We must aim more and more at the ACCOMPLISHMENT of the Divine Will – not only desiring nothing special to happen to us, bad or even good, in this wretched life and thus, keeping ourselves always at God’s disposal, with heart and soul at peace but also, believing, with a firm faith, that Almighty God loves us more than we love ourselves and takes more care of us, than we could take care of ourselves.
The more we conform to this way of acting, the more we shall find God present to help us and the more we shall experience, His most gentle love. But no-one can reach such perfection except by constant and courageous sacrifice of self-will and, if we would learn to practice such abnegation, it is necessary to keep ourselves in a state of great and deep humility, so that, by perfect knowledge of our own misery and weakness, we may rise to learn the greatness and beauty of our God.
Consider how just and necessary it is, to serve Him unceasingly, with love and obedience. I say just, because, God being Father and Master of all things, it is just that His Son and Servant, should obey and love Him. I say necessary because,, by acting otherwise, we could not be saved.
Let us always remember, never doubting, that it is the Eternal, Sovereign, All-powerful God, Who does, orders, or allows, everything that happens and that nothing comes to pass, without His Divine Will.
Let us remember that He is Himself that Wisdom, which, in the government of the universe – of heaven, earth and every single creature – cannot be deceived. (He would be neither God nor most wise, if it were otherwise). Let us look upon Him as supremely good, loving and beneficent.
If, through His Mercy, this conviction becomes strongly impressed upon our wills, we shall easily take all things from His Sacred Hand, with well-contented hearts, always thanking Him for fulfilling His most holy will in us. By acting thus. (with the help of His holy grace) we shall unite ourselves to Him, by true love in this life and by glory in eternity.
May He grant it to us in His goodness! Of your charity pray for me, a wretched sinner, who commends herself to you all.”
Saint of the Day – 13 February – Saint Catherine de Ricci OP (1522-1590) Virgin, Tertiary of the Order of Preachers, Mystic, Stigmatist, Ecstatic, Counsellor to many in both secular and spiritual matters, a highly admired Administrator and Advisor,blessed with many mystical charism including visions of Christ, both as a Baby and Adult, bilocation and miracles. Born as Alessandra Lucrezia Romola de’ Ricci in Florence on 23 April 1522 and died on 2 February 1590 (aged 67) at Prato, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, of natural causes. Patronage – the sick. Her body is incorrupt.
The Roman Martyrology states of her today: “At Prato, in Tuscany, St Catherine de Ricci, a Florentine Virgin of the Order of St Dominic, replenished with her heavenly gifts, whom Pope Benedict XIV inscribed on tbe catalogue of holy Virgins. She died in virtues and merits, on the 2nd of this month but her festival is celebrated on this day, 13th.”
The Ricci are an ancient family, which still subsists in a flourishing condition in Tuscany today. Alessandra was born in Florence to Pier Francesco de’ Ricci, of a patrician family and his wife, Caterina Bonza, who died soon after the birth of Alessandra. At age 6 or 7, her father enrolled her in a school run by a Monastery of Benedictine Nuns in the Monticelli quarter of the City, near their home and the City gates, where her Aunt, Luisa de’ Ricci, was the Abbess.
Catherine was a devout and pious child and it was here, in the Convent of her Aunt, that she developed a lifelong devotion to the Passion of Christ. After a short time back at home and after finally persuading her father,, at the age of 14, she entered the Convent of St Vincent in Prato, Tuscany, a cloistered community of religious sisters of the Third Order of St Dominic, disciples of the noted Dominican Friar Girolamo Savonarola, who followed the strict regimen of life she desired. In May 1535 she received the religious habit from her uncle, Timoteo de’ Ricci, who was Confessor to the Convent and the religious name of Catherine, after the Dominican tertiary, St Catherine of Siena.
Her novitiate was a time of trial. She would experience ecstasies during her routine, which caused her to seem asleep during community prayer , dropping plates and food, so much so, that the community began to question her competence, if not her sanity. Eventually, the other Sisters became aware of the spiritual basis for her behaviour. By the age of 30 she had risen to the post of Prioress.
After the recovery of her health, which seemed miraculous, she studied more perfectly to die to her senses and to advance in a penitential life and spirit, in which God had begun to conduct her, by practising the greatest austerities which were compatible with the obedience she had professed; – she fasted two or three days a week on bread and water alone and sometimes passed the whole day without taking any nourishment and chastised her body with disciplines and a sharp iron chain which she wore next her skin. Her obedience, humility and meekness were still more admirable than her spirit of penance. Much of penitential practice and oblation of her sufferings, were directed to the succour of the Souls in Purgatory.
It was by profound humility and perfect interior self-denial that she learned to vanquish in her heart, the sentiments or life of the first Adam – that is, of corruption, sin and inordinate self-love. But this victory over herself,and purgation of her affections, was completed by a perfect spirit of prayer. By the union of her soul with God and the establishment of the absolute reign of His love in her heart, she was dead to and disengaged from, all earthly things. Her visions became most vivid allowing her to hold Baby Jesus dressed in swaddling clothes and to be mystically married and united with adult Jesus. Catherine’s meditations on the Passion of Christ were so deep, that she spontaneously bled, as if scourged. She also bore the Stigmata. During times of deep prayer, like Catherine of Siena, her Patron Saint, a coral ring representing her marriage to Christ, appeared on her finger.
Crowds gathered to witness her prayer and ecstasies and it began to distract from the life of the Convent. Catherine herself was embarrassed by all the attention. The community prayed that her wounds and experience would lessen in intensity so that they could go about the work of their common life together in peace and in 1554 the visions ceased.
As the Prioress, Catherine developed into an effective and greatly admired administrator. She was an advisor on various topics to Princes, Bishops and Cardinals. She corresponded with three figures who were destined to become Popes: Pope Marcellus II, Pope Clement VIII and Pope Leo XI. An expert on religion, management and administration, her advice was widely sought. She gave counsel both in person and through exchanging letters. It is reported that she was extremely effective in her work, managing her priorities with great zeal and efficiency.
One of the miracles that was documented for her Canonisation was her appearance many hundreds of miles away from where she was physically located, in a vision to St Philip Neri, a resident of Rome, with whom she had maintained a long-term correspondence. St Philip, who was otherwise very reluctant to discuss miraculous events, confirmed the event.
Catherine lived in the Convent until her death in 1590 after a prolonged illness. Her remains are visible under the Altar of the Minor Basilica of Santi Vicenzo e Caterina de’ Ricci, Prato, which is next to the Convent associated with her life..
Catherine was Beatified by Pope Clement XII in 1732 and Canonised by Pope Benedict XIV in 1746 in a spectacular ceremony for which a magnificent ‘canopy’ was constructed. In celebration of the Saint’s Canonisation, Domenico Maria Sandrini wrote an authorative biography of the new Saint.
Septuagesima Sunday: The word Septuagesima is Latin for “seventieth.” It is both the name of the liturgical season and the name of the Sunday. Septuagesima Sunday marks the beginning of the shortest Liturgical season. This season is seventeen (17) days long and includes the three Sundays before Ash Wednesday. The length of the season never changes but the start date is dependent on the movable date of Easter, which can fall between 22 March-25 April. Septuagesima Sunday can be as early as 18 January. The Septuagesima season helps the faithful ease into Lent. It is a gradual preparation for the serious time of penance and sorrow; to remind the sinner of the grievousness of his errors and to exhort him to penance. Liturgically it looks very much like Lent. The Gloria and Alleluia are omitted, the tone becomes penitential with the Priest wearing purple vestments. The main difference is that there are no fasting requirements.
Bl Beatrix of Ornacieux St Benignus of Todi Bl Berengar of Assisi St Castor of Karden St Catherine de Ricci OP (1522-1590) Virgin, Tertiary of the Order of Preachers, Mystic, Stimatist. Her body is incorrupt.
St Julian of Lyon St Lucinus of Angers St Marice St Martinian the Hermit St Maura of Ravenna St Modomnoc St Paulus Lio Hanzuo St Peter I of Vercelli St Phaolô Lê Van Loc St Stephen of Lyons St Stephen of Rieti
Saint of the Day – 15 November – Blessed Lucia of Narni OP (1476-1544) Virgin, Tertiary of the Order of Preachers, Mystic, Stigmatist, Ecstatic, Married but remained chaste and fulfilled her vow of Virginity before she left her marital home and entered a Convent. Born on 13 December 1476 in Narni, Umbria, Italy as Lucia Brocadelli and died on 15 November 1544 at the Saint Catherine of Siena Convent in Ferrara, Italy of natural causes. Patronage – of Narni, Italy. Also known as – Lucy Brocadelli, Lucy de Alessio, Lucia Broccadelli. Her body is incorrupt.
Already very early it became evident to her pious Italian family that this child was set for something unusual in life. Lucia was born in 13 December 1476 on the feast day of Saint Lucia of Syracuse, the eldest of eleven children of Bartolomeo Brocadelli and Gentilina Cassio, in the Town of Narni (then called Narnia) and in the region of Umbria.
When Lucia was five years old, she had a vision of the Child Jesus with Our Lady. Two years later, Our Lady appeared with Child Jesus, Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Dominic. Jesus gave her a ring and Saint Dominic gave her the scapular. At age 12, she made a private vow of total consecration, determined, even at this early age, to become a Dominican. However, family affairs were to make this difficult. During the following year Lucia’s father died, leaving her in the care of an uncle. And this uncle felt that the best way to dispose of a pretty niece was to marry her off, as soon as possible.
The efforts of her uncle to get Lucia successfully married form a colorful chapter in the life of the Blessed Lucia. Eventually the uncle approached the matter with more tact, arranging a marriage with Count Pietro of Milan, who was not a stranger to the family. Lucia was, in fact, very fond of him but she had resolved to live as a religious. The strain of the situation made her seriously ill. During her illness, Our Lady appeared to her again, accompanied by Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine and told her to go ahead with the marriage as a legal contract but to explain to Pietro that she was bound to her vow of virginity and must keep it. When Lucia recovered, the matter was explained to Pietro and in 1491 the marriage was solemnised.
Lucia’s life now became that of the mistress of a large and busy household. She took great care to instruct the servants in their religion and soon became known for her benefactions to the poor. Pietro, to do him justice, never seems to have objected when his young wife gave away clothes and food, nor when she performed great penances. He knew that she wore a hair-shirt under her rich clothing and that she spent most of the night in prayer and working for the poor.
But when, after having disappeared for the entire night, Countess Lucia returned home early in the morning in the company of two men and claimed that they were Saints Dominic and John the Baptist, Pietro’s patience finally gave out. He had his young wife locked up. Here she remained for the season of Lent; sympathetic servants brought her food until Easter. Being allowed to go to the Church, Lucia never returned. She went to her mother’s house and on the Feast of the Ascension, 1494, 8 May she put on the habit of a Dominican tertiary.
Count Pietro was furious, burned down the Dominican Priory and even tried to kill her spiritual director who had given her the habit. Rich and influential, he continued to try to bring her back. The following year, Lucia went to Rome and entered the Monastery of the Dominican tertiaries near Pantheon. Her sanctity impressed everyone so much that by the end of the year, with five other Sisters, she was sent by the Master General of the Dominicans, to start a new Monastery in Viterbo.
On Friday, 25 February 1496, Lucia received the Stigmata, the Sacred Wounds. She tried very hard to hide her spiritual favours because they complicated her life wherever she went. She had the stigmata visibly and she was usually in ecstasy, which meant a steady stream of curious people who wanted to question her, investigate her, or just stare at her. Even the Sisters were nervous about her methods of prayer. Once they called in the Bishop, and he watched Lucia with the sisters for 12 hours, while she went through the drama of the Passion.
The Bishop hesitated to pass judgement and called for special commissions; the second one was presided by a famous Inquisitor of Bologna. All declared that her Stigmata were authentic. Here the hard-pressed Pietro had his final appearance in Lucia’s life. He made a last effort to persuade hery to come back to him. After seeing her, he returned to Narni, sold everything he had and became a Franciscan. In later years, he was a famous preacher.
The Duke of Ferrara was planning to build a Monastery and, hearing of the fame of the mystic of Viterbo, asked Sister Lucia to be its Prioress. Lucia had been praying for some time that a means would be found to build a new Convent of strict observance and she agreed to go to Ferrara. This led to a two-year battle between the Towns. Viterbo had the Mystic and did not want to lose her; the Duke of Ferrara sent first his messengers and then his troops to bring her. Much money and time was lost before she finally escaped from Viterbo and was solemnly received in Ferrara on 7 May 1499.
Various problems arose in the Convent due to the Duke bringing all sorts of unsuitable people to view ‘his’ Convent and Stigmatist. the Sisters petitioned the Bishop and, by the order of the Pope, he sent ten nuns from the Second Order to reform the community. Lucia’s foundation was of the Third Order; of women who remained part of the laity even after their vows. The Second Order “real” nuns, according to the chronicle, “brought in the very folds of their veils the seed of war.” Nnuns of the Second Order wore black veils, a privilege not allowed to tertiaries.
The uneasy episode ended when one of these ten nuns was made Prioress and when the Duke died on 24 January 1505. Lucia was placed on penance. The nature of her fault is not mentioned, nor was there any explanation of the fact that, until her death, 39 years later, she was never allowed to speak to anyone but her Confessor, who was chosen by the Prioress. Only now, 500 years later, the situation is slowly beginning to clear.
The Dominican Provincial, probably nervous for the prestige of the Order, would not let any member of the Order go to see her. Her Stigmata disappeared, too late to do her any good and vindictive companions said: “See, she was a fraud all the time.” When she died in 1544, people thought she had been dead for many years. It is hard to understand how anyone, not a saint, could have so long endured such a life. Lucia’s only friends during her 39 years of exile were heavenly ones – the Dominican Catherine of Racconigi, sometimes visited her – evidently by bi-location – and her other heavenly friends often also came to brighten her lonely cell.
Immediately after her death everything suddenly changed. When her body was laid out for burial so many people wanted to pay their last respects that her funeral had to be delayed by three days. Her Tomb in the Monastery Church was opened four years later and her perfectly preserved body was transferred to a glass case. When Napoleon suppressed her Monastery in 1797, her body was transferred to the Cathedral of Ferrara and on 26 May 1935 to the Cathedral of Narni.
So many miracles occurred at her Shrine that Lucia was finally Beatified on 1 March 1710 by Pope Clement XI.
It is thought that Lucia was the inspiration for th little girl Lucy, who could see many things that no-one else could, in C S Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.
Saint of the Day – 9 November – Blessed Gabriel Ferretti OFM (1385-1456) Priest, Friar of the Order of Friars Minor,, Provincial Superior, Mystic. renowned missionary Preacher. He was zealous in the restoration and establishment of new Convents. Born in 1385 at Ancona, Italy and died on 12 November 1456 in Ancona, Piceno, Italy of natural causes. He was an ancestor to both Cardinal Gabriele Ferretti and Blessed Pope Pius IX, having been descended from a long noble lineage. Patronage – Ancona. His body is incorrupt.
Gabriel was born in 1385 and belonged to the ancient ducal family of the Ferretti. His devout parents raised him in the fear of God and in his eighteenth year he entered the Franciscan Order. His efforts at acquiring virtue won for him so great a degree of the respect and confidence of his brethren that, shortly after his Ordination to the Priesthood, when he was only twenty-five years old, he was appointed to preach missions in the March of Ancona. For fifteen years he devoted himself to this important task with blessed success.
He was then assigned to the office of Guardian of the Convent of Ancona and later he was elected Provincial of the Province of the March. In both offices he was careful to guide his subjects well. He shirked no labour and he could be very severe if it was necessary to correct an evil. He achieved the greatest results, however, by his own bright example of virtue, which induced weak and lax characters to exert themselves manfully in observing the rule.
His reputation for preaching to the masses was noted to the point, where Giacomo della Marca – who was preaching in Bosnia – asked for his help in that task. But the Ancona council in their deliberations on 22 February 1438 passed a resolution asking Pope Eugene IV to ensure the Friar remained in Ancona, due to all his good works. The Pope accepted this request, which meant that Gabriel could not go to Bosnia to aid his friend.
The following incident is proof of his great humility and piety. Once while he was journeying to Assisi, he went into the Franciscan Church at Foligno to pray. The Sacristan, who took him for a Brother, bade him serve the Mass of a Priest who had just gone to the Altar. The humble Provincial obeyed but when the guardian of the Convent recognised the venerable Superior of the Province of the March, in the server, he severely reproached the Sacristan. Father Gabriel defended the Sacristan, saying:
“To serve Mass is a great privilege. The Angels would consider themselves honoured. So do not blame the Brother for conferring that honour on me!”
Gabriel’s zeal to promote the interests of the Order was as great as his humility. At San Severino he restored a Convent that had fallen into ruin. At Osimo he built a new Convent. The Convent at Ancona he enlarged, in order to accommodate the great number of novices attracted to it by the fame of his sanctity.
Blessed Gabriel Ferretti possessed an ardent love of God and the Blessed Virgin Mary and he unwittingly gave expression to it, in all his sermons. Frequently he was favoured with visions of Our Lord and of the Blessed Virgin.
Rich in virtue and merits, Blessed Gabriel Ferretti died on 12 November 1456, in the Convent at Ancona, assisted in his last hour by the servant of God Gregory of Alba, and St James of the March. The latter delivered his funeral oration. To this day his body is incorrupt and the many miracles wrought through his intercession have increased the devotion of the faithful to him. On 19 September 1753 Pope Benedict XIV solemnly confirmed his veneration.
Saint of the Day – 23 June – Blessed Marie of Oignies (1167-1213) Recluse, Mystic, Ascetic, chastely married in continence, spiritual advisor., gifted with supernatural insight and prophesy. Marie had a deep devotion to the Passion, the Blessed Virgin and for the Souls in Purgatory, for whom she offered many prayers and penances. Born in 1167 at Nivelles, Diocese of Liege, Belgium and died n 23 June 1213 of natural causes. Patronages – against fever, of women in labour . Also known as Mary, Maria, Mariam. Miriam.
Marie of Oignies was born of very wealthy parents. But while still very young, she rejected everything childish or vain — games, beautiful clothing, ornaments. At the age of fourteen, despite her desire to be a nun, she was obliged to marry a virtuous young lord. Her holy life caused admiration in her spouse and decided him to follow her examples and together they resolved to practice continence for life, to distribute their wealth to the poor and consecrate themselves to works of piety. The demon tried every artifice to make them relent in their holy resolution but failed. They drew down on themselves the most abundant blessings, as well as sarcasms and insults from the worldly.
Marie had the gift of tears and could not look at a Crucifix without breaking into a torrent of tears or being ravished in ecstasy. When a Priest told her to cease these exhibitions, she asked God to make him understand that it was not possible for a creature to arrest tears which the Holy Spirit obliges to well up. And the Priest, that same day while saying his Mass, began to shed so many tears that the Altar cloths and his vestments, were wet with them.
She had a great devotion to Saint John the Evangelist and conversed with him, as well as with her Guardian Angel. By vision and revelation, she often knew the temptations and secrets of the hearts of the persons who consulted her. She converted many, obtained graces by her prayers for the living and especially for the dead, for whom she offered prayers and sacrifices and suffered various illnesses with invincible patience. Her many visitors made her life of contemplation difficult and she decided to change her residence; her husband permitted her to go to Oignies, where she lived in retreat amidst her heavenly favours and conversations.
She saw the place destined for her in heaven and gave up her holy soul surrounded by angelic songs of bliss. The faithful who had addressed her, were so impressed with the value of her intercession, that her relics became the object of great respect. Buried at Oignies, her remains in 1609 were placed in a silver reliquary in its Parish Church of Our Lady; in 1817 they were transferred to the Church of Saint Nicolas at Nivelle, near her birthplace.
Saint of the Day – 9 June – Blessed Anna Maria Taigi O.SS.T. (1769-1837) Secular Religious of The Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Captives – known as the Trinitarians, Married laywoma, Mystic. Born on 29 May 1769 at Siena, Italy as Anna Maria Gianetti and died on 9 June 1837 at Rome, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – Housewives,Mothers,Victims of verbal abuse, Victims of spousal abuse,Families,Trinitarian tertiaries. Also known as – Anne Marie Gesualda Antonia Taigi, Anna Maria Taigi, Anne Marie Gianetti. Her body incorrupt.
Hailing from Siena, Italy, Taigi’s family moved to Rome when her pharmacist father needed to find employment after financial ruin. Poverty, although unchosen then, later in life would be embraced as one of her defining characteristics.
Unsure of her vocation as a young woman, Taigi considered religious life but because she was too ambivalent to it, a confessor suggested marriage. Her future husband’s path crossed hers while both were engaged in service work in the homes of Italian nobility. Domenico Taigi was a rough and tumble man, prone to making life difficult for those around him in word and deed. And his wife got the brunt of his temperament. But Taigi softened him, showing love when least expected. A hardened heart, almost assuredly will melt over time from love’s gentleness — such as an unwarranted smile. Taigi models how one takes seriously the marriage vows as a means to one’s own sanctification and growth in holiness.
This self-denial for which Anna Maria became known was not always what defined her. In the early years of their marriage, her life was marked by vanity and luxury. It has been disputed that she engaged in an adulterous affair.
But a conversion experience led Anna Maria to embrace a Gospel way of life that came to define her life. Baptised the day after her birth, Anna Maria’s faith had not blossomed until after her marriage. A chance encounter with a Priest in S. Peter’s Square prompted her to subsequently make a fruitful Confession, in which she renounced the life of worldly priorities which she had been living. That night, Taigi had been moved by an inner voice that said God desired more from her. Her husband described years later, how, as a first step in this new life, his wife “took to wearing the plainest possible clothes,” noting ,that, in obedience to her spouse, she asked for his consent. He gave it completely, he said, for he saw “she was entirely given to the love of God.”
All this had kept her from giving her all to Christ, which took place while in prayer before a Crucifix. She heard Jesus ask from the Cross, “What is your wish? To follow Jesus poor and naked and stripped of all, or to follow Him in His triumph and glory? Which do you choose?” To which she replied, “I embrace the Cross of my Jesus. I will carry it like Him in pain and ignominy. I wait at His hands, triumph and glory in the hereafter.”
Single-minded dedication to Christ, defined the rest of Anna Maria’s life, which was a constant display of the closeness to Christ she experienced in the Sacrament. She worked to serve Christ in the sick and poor as a Third Order Trinitarian ,while keeping up with the duties of a wife and mother. A gift of prophesying the future was the spiritual fruit of visions and ecstasies — all the more incredible that this came to an ordinary housewife, not the likes of a cloistered nun. Her prophetic abilities caused her to become sought after by many notable figures, including Napoleon’s Mother and the Pope. Anna Maria became acquainted with Cardinal Luigi Ercolani, and Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti ,who would become Blessed Pope Pius IX. Pope Pius VII often asked St Vincent Strambi , the Priest who had assisted her in her convesion, how she was doing and would send his blessings to her. Pope Leo XII and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Menocchio both held her in high esteem Anna Maria composed a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pedicini took this prayer to Pius VII who, in a rescript on 6 March 1809, granted an indulgence. For 100 days, those who recited it, a plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions.
Anna Maria attended the 1825 Jubilee which Pope Leo XII had summoned. She knew of the latter Pope’s ill health. Before he died, in 1829, she saw the morning sun and prayed for him. She heard a heavenly voice say, “Arise and pray. My Vicar is on the point of coming to render an account to Me.” Pope Leo’s successor Pope Pius VIII lived in the shadow of ill health. Anna Maria foresaw his death and prayed for his soul as she did with his predecessor. She had predicted the pontificate of Pius VIII would be a short one.
She successfully foresaw that Cardinal Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari would be elected as Pope Gregory XVI. Before Pius VIII died, Anna Maria went to San Paolo fuori le Mura. When Cappellari arrived she fixed her eyes on him When she was asked why she was doing this, she frankly responded, “That is the future Pope.”
On 24 October 1836, Anna Maria fell ill. She was confined to her bed and would never rise again. On 2 June 1837, her fever slightly declined but a few days later, her fever rose again. On 5 June she bid farewell to those who visited her bedside. On 8 June she received the last rites of Extreme Unction.
Ana Maria received the Viaticum and the Anointing of the Sick from the local curate. On 9 June 1837, at 4 a.m., she died. Pedicini sent a letter at once to Cardinal Carlo Odescalchi to inform him of her death. Anna Maria’s remains were exposed until 11 June in the Church of Santa Maria in Via Lata. She was buried at Campo Verano where, on the orders of Pope Gregory XVI, her remains were enclosed in a leaden sepulcher with seals affixed to it. Cardinal Odescalchi asked her Confessor to compile all documents so that her biography could be published.
Upon her death in 1837, the future St Vincent Pallotti praised her holiness. This was reiterated by Venerable Bernardo Clausi who said, “If she is not in heaven, there is no room there for anybody.” She was Beatified by Pope Benedict XV on 30 May 1920.
Saint of the Day – 20 May – Blessed Columba of Rieti OP (1467- 1501) religious Sister of the Third Order of St Dominic, Mystic, Apostle of the poor, renowned for her spiritual counsel, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and fantastic miracles were attributed to her. Born on 2 February 1467 at Rieti, Umbria, Italy as Angelella Guardagnoli and died on 20 May 1501 at Perugia, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – Against sorcery, against temptation, Perugia, Italy. Also known as – Angelella Guardagnoli, Colomba of Rieti.
Columba was the daughter of a poor family in the Umbrian city of Rieti. When she was born, angels gathered around her house, singing and during her Baptism, a dove flew down to the font. From then on, no-one referred to her as Angelella but as Columba , which means “dove”.
From infancy Columba led a supernatural life. She strewed her little bed with thorns and from an old sieve ,plaited a hair-shirt. As a small girl, Columba learned to spin and sew, repairing the clothes of the local Dominican Friars. She was educated by Dominican nuns. The Holy Eucharist formed her one desire and almost her sole nourishment. Hunger, thirst, sleep and the other needs of nature, not only never tormented her but she lived unconscious of them.
As a teenager, she prayed to discern her vocation in life and received a vision of Christ on a Throne surrounded by Saints. She took this as a sign to dedicate herself to God and so, she made a private vow of chastity and spent her time in prayer. When it was revealed that her parents had arranged a marriage for her, she cut off her hair and sent it to her suitor as a way of letting him know, where her real interest lay.
Columba became a Dominican Tertiary at age 19. She was given to ecstasies, during one of which, her spirit toured the Holy Land. She was much sought after as a spiritual counselor. Citizens from the City of Narni, tried to kidnap her so she could be their miracle worker but she escaped.
Upon an interior prompting that she should leave Rieti, Columba wandered away, having no concept of where she was going. Along the way she was arrested in Foligno as a vagrant. The Bishop there ordered her to go to Perugia and to found a Third Order Convent, which she did but only against the strong objections of the citizens of Foligno and Rieti, who wanted her for their own needs.
She worked with the poor extensively in Perugia, so much so, that her sanctity reportedly incensed Lucrezia Borgia for years. At one point Borgia had even issued a complaint accusing Columba of practising magic. On the other hand, Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia’s father, held Columba in high regard. He consulted her and she ordered him to repent of his sins.
If Columba’s reception of Holy Communion was delayed by but one hour, she fainted from exhaustion and her life seemed in danger. Her Confessor, fearing some delusion, asked her how she was able to live on the Blessed Sacrament alone. “When I receive this heavenly food,” she replied, “I feel so satisfied in soul and body that all desire for earthly food vanishes and I have a horror of it. I hope that before this year is over, God will give you a sign which will remove your doubts.” On Christmas-day, as this Priest finished his first Mass, he felt an unknown refreshment of soul. When he had said his third Mass, this heavenly love had reached such a height, that he felt it impossible to touch food and so remained fasting throughout the day. This was revealed to Columba, who said, “I rejoice, Father, that you have received my heavenly food and now know, by experience, how I can be satisfied by the Bread of angels alone!”
Columba spent eleven years as Prioress in Perugia, dying on 2 May 1501, at the age of 34. At the moment of her death, her friend and fellow Dominican Tertiary, Blessed Osanna of Mantua (1493-1565), saw Columba’s soul as a “radiance rising to heaven.”
The whole City attended her funeral, which was paid for by the City administrators.
She was Beatified on 25 February 1625 by Pope Urban VIII and her Feast day is celebrated within the Dominican Order on the anniversary of her death. As Patron of Perugia, she is highly venerated and Statues of her abound in the region.
One Minute Reflection – 13 May – “Mary’s Month” – Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, Readings: Acts 18: 1-8, Psalms 98: 1, 2-3, 3-4, John 16: 16-20 and the Memorial of Blessed Imelda Lambertini (1322-1333) Child Mystic, “Adorer of the Blessed Sacrament”
“Your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” … John 16:20… John 16:16
REFLECTION – Today, our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, let our hearts ascend with Him. Listen to the words of the Apostle – If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as He remained with us even after His ascension, so we too, are already in heaven with Him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.
Christ is now exalted above the heavens but He still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of His body have to bear. He showed this when He cried out from above – Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? and when He said: I was hungry and you gave me food.
Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with Him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to Him? While in heaven. He is also with us and we, while on earth, are with Him. He is here with us by His divinity, His power and His love. We cannot be in heaven, as He is on earth, by divinity but in Him, we can be there by love.
He did not leave heaven when He came down to us, nor did He withdraw from us when He went up again into heaven. The fact that He was in heaven even while He was on earth, is borne out by His own statement – No-one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven. … Thus, no-one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body but because the body, as a unity cannot be separated from the head” – St Augustine (354-430) Bishop and Great Western Father and Doctor of the Church – An excerpt from his Sermon on the Lord’s Ascension
PRAYER – Almighty God, fill us with a holy joy, teach us how to thank You with reverence and love for the joy of the ascension of Christ Your on. You have raised us up with Him, where He the head has preceded us in glory, there we, the body, are called in hope. Grant, too we beg, that by Mary’s prayer and the prayer of Your loving child Blessed Imelda Lambertini, we may give You faithful service and spread abroad the glory of Your nameThrough Christ our Lord, i the unity of the Holy Spirit and the glory of the Father, God forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 27 April – Blessed Osanna of Cattaro OP (1493-1565) Virgin, Mystic, Anchoress., Tertiary of the Order of St Dominic, spiritual guide. Born on 25 November 1493 at Kumano, Montenegro as Catherine Cosie and died on 27 April 1565 in Kotor, Montenegro of natural causes, aged 71. Patronage – Kotor, Montenegro. Also known as – Catherine Cosie, Catherine Kosic, Catherine of Montenegro, Hosanna of Kotor, Ossana of Cattaro, Ozana Kotorska, “Teacher of Mysticism,” “Angel of Peace,” “Virgin Reconciler”and “Trumpet of the Holy Spirit.” Her Body is incorrupt.
Over the course of her life, the people of Kotor came to call her “the trumpet of the Holy Spirit” and the “teacher of mysticism.” People from all walks of life came to her for advice and she interceded particularly ,for peace in the town and among feuding families. Therefore, she was also called “the Virgin Reconciler” and the “Angel of Peace.”
The life of this Blessed has a very special charm. Born in 1493 to very humble Orthodox parents in Kebeza, during the heart of the Greek schism, she was given the name of Catherine at her baptism.
This little shepherdess, enraptured by the beauty of the magnificent views of her Montenegro, she fell in love with the Creator of so many wonders and, with unusual ardour, sheasked Him to show Himself to her. And there, in the solitude of the mountains, Jesus appeared to her first, a tender child and then Crucified, imprinting an indelible seal on her virgin heart.
When she was a little older, she was placed in Kotor as a servant in the family of a Senator, an excellent Catholic. Here, she was able to educate herself in the true faith and to receive the Sacraments. Having known the Dominicans, at the age of twenty-two, she made a heroic decision: -to become a recluse forever, taking up the habit and the Rule of the Third Order of St Dominic.
And so, walled up in a cell next to the Church of St Paolo, run by the Dominicans, she lived in the contemplation of the pains of Jesus and in the complete immolation of herself. She was also a teacher of holiness to countless souls but above all she was the guardian angel of Kotor. Although she lived alone, there was nothing selfish about Osanna’s spirituality. A group of her Dominican sisters, who considered her their leader, consulted her frequently and sought her prayers. A convent of sisters founded at Cattaro, regarded her as their foundress,because of her spiritual guidance and prayers, although she never saw the place. When the City was attacked by the Turks, the people ran to her for help and they credited their deliverance to her prayers. Another time, her prayers saved them from the plague.
She died on 27 April 1565. Her body rests in the Church of Santa Maria in Kotor.
The incorrupt body of Osanna was kept in the Church of St Paul until 1807, when the French Army converted the church into a warehouse. Her body was then brought to the Church of St Mary. The people of Kotor venerated her as a saint. In 1905, the process for her Beatification began in Kotor and was successfully completed in Rome. On 21 December 1927, Pope Pius XI approved her cultus, invoking its intercession for Christian unity and in 1934, he formally Beatified her.
Saint of the Day – 16 January – Saint Fursey (Died c 650) Irish Missionary Monk, Abbot who did much to establish Christianity in the British Isles and in France, Mystic, whose visions played a pivotal role in the Church’s developing understanding of life after death. St Fursey is one of the Four Comely Saints – a collective name for Saints Fursey, Brendan of Birr, Conall and Berchán, at their burial place on Inishmore a Church was built in the fifteenth-century and dedicated to them. Born in c567 at Munster, Ireland and died in c 648 at Mezerolles, France. Also known as Fursey of peronne, Fursey of Lagny, Fursa, Furseo, Furse, Fursae, Fursu, Fulsey, Furseus. Patronage – Peronne, France.
Fursey was born in Ireland in the closing years of the 6th century. as the son of an Irish Prince and was baptised by St Brendan the Traveller, his father’s uncle. He early showed desire and aptitude to study the Sacred Scriptures and his growth in the faith was matched only by a monastic discipline of life. In his early twenties he received visions that focussed his life on the urgency of preaching the Good News of Christ. His visions were also to play a pivotal role in the Church’s developing understanding of life after death and God’s continuing desire to show love and forgiveness. Fursey’s visions are among the first major accounts of a journey of a soul in the other world to be composed in the early medieval period.
For the next decade Fursey went around Ireland and his preaching was powerful. But his growing popularity disturbed him for he wished people to focus on Christ. Already a Monk, he went with some monastic companions on retreat to a small Irish island to seek guidance. The desire to become ‘a pilgrim for the love of God’ grew stronge, and the group left Ireland, never to return.
Fursey and his companions journeyed to England, where Sigebert – the new and Christian King of East Anglia – had returned from exile in 630 with a desire to share his new faith with his new subjects. Sigebert welcomed Fursey and his group and allowed them to base themselves at Cnobheresburgh (which has been traditionally identified as the Roman Fort at Burgh Castle near Great Yarmouth). Becoming ill, Fursey fell into a trance and, according to St Bede, left his body from evening till cock-crow and was found worthy to behold the chorus of angels in Heaven. Fursey’s visions of Heaven and Hell, experienced throughout his life and widely recounted, are thought to have inspired Dante’s Divine Comedy. After almost a decade in East Anglia Fursey felt called to continue his missionary pilgrimage.
Going to France, he was received by King Clovis II and his leading official Earconwald. With their blessing he founded a Monastery at Lagny-sur-Marne (east of Paris). His journeys continued and many Churches in Picardy are dedicated to him.
He died at Mézerolles c 648. His body lay unburied and unsullied by decay and emitting a sweet odour for thirty days pending the Dedication of the Church and was during that time, visited by pilgrims from all parts. Finally, he was buried in a Church (built specially by Earconwald) in Peronne which has claimed him as Patron ever since. Four years later his still incorrupt body was moved to a new shrine east of the altar. At nearby Mont St Quentin, an Abbey was founded in his honour, which became such a great centre for pilgrims that Peronne was known as ‘Peronne Scottorum’ (Peronne of the Irish). In its scriptorium one of the Monks wrote the Vita of Fursey, which tells us so much about him. The Vita has the vitality and insights that come from an eyewitness account, making it of especial value.
It was this almost contemporary Life, that the Venerable St Bede drew on, in his “History of the English Church and People” (iii,19). St Bede obviously admired Fursey deeply. “He was renowned” wrote St Bede “for his words and doing, and was outstanding in virtue.”“Inspired by the example of his goodness and the effectiveness of his teaching,” St Bede went on, “many unbelievers were converted to Christ and those who already believed, were drawn to greater love and faith in him.” St Bede wrote, as he himself said, so that his readers would understand “how great a man Fursey was.” It is a view echoed by writers of our own day who place Fursey as the most influential Irish Missionary in Europe, after his predecessor Columbanus . Fursey’s Visions were to play a pivotal role in the Western Church’s developing understanding of the world to come.
One Minute Reflection – 13 January – Readings: Hebrews 2:14-18, Psalms 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9, Mark 1:29-39 and the Memorial of St Hilary of Poitiers (315-368) Father & Doctor of the Church and Blessed
That evening at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick, or oppressed by demons. – Mark 1:32
REFLECTION – “Let us set before our interior consideration someone gravely wounded who is about to breathe his last. … Now, the soul’s wound is sin, of which Scripture speaks in these terms: “Wound and welt and gaping gash, not drained or bandaged or eased with salve” (Is 1:6). Oh you who are wounded, recognise your physician within you and show Him the wounds of your sins. May He understand your heart’s groaning Who already knows its secret thoughts. May your tears move Him. Go as far as a little shamelessness in your beseeching (cf. Lk 11:8). Ceaselessly bring forth deep sighs to Him from the depth of your heart.
May your grief reach Him so that He may say to you also : “The Lord has pardoned your sin” (2 Sam 12:13). Cry out with David, who said: “Have mercy on me, O God, in (…) the greatness of your compassion” (Ps 50:3). It is as though one were to say: “I am in great danger because of an enormous wound, that no doctor can cure, unless the all-powerful Physician comes to help me.” For this all-powerful Physician, nothing is incurable. He heals without charge! With one word He restores to health! I would have despaired of my wound were it not, that I placed my trust in the Almighty.” – St Gregory the Great (540-604) Pope, Father, Doctor of the Church – Commentary on Psalm 50
PRAYER – God our Saviour, through the grace of Baptism, You made us children of light. You lead us by the hand and guide and protect us by Your commandments. Fill us with joy at Your nearness and the light of Your Son, by whose beam we see You and follow. St Hilary and Bl Veronica were shining examples to us all, grant, we pray, that their prayers may aid us. Through Jesus our Lord and Christ, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 13 January – Blessed Veronica of Binasco OSA (c 1445-1497) Virgin Nun of the Order of St Augustine, Mystic, endowed with the gifts of prophecy and discernment- born as Giovanna Negroni in c 1445 at Binasco, Italy, a small village near Milan and died on 13 January 1497 in Milan, Italy of natural causes. Veronica of Binasco was known as a great contemplative who also gave loving care to sick sisters in her community and ministered to the people of Milan. Additional Memorial – 28 January (Augustinian calendar).
Veronica grew up in the small town of Binasco, Italy, not far from Milan. She and her family were poor and she worked with her mother and father, doing chores and in the fields. Her parents set their daughter on the path to Christian virtues, as it was said that her father was a scrupulously honest man, never selling a horse without first disclosing its faults or imperfections to the buyer. As she developed a desire for saintliness and perfection, she became tired of the joking and songs of her companions, even hiding her head and weeping as she worked.
Having no formal education, she attempted, unsuccessfully, to teach herself to read. While making this effort one night, the Virgin Mary appeared to Veronica, telling her that while some of her pursuits were necessary, her reading was not. Instead, the Virgin taught her in the form of three mystical letters:
The first signified purity of intention; the second, abhorrence of murmuring or criticism; the third, daily meditation on the Passion. By the first she learned to begin her daily duties for no human motive but for God alone; by the second, to carry out what she had thus begun by attending to her own affairs, never judging her neighbour but praying for those who manifestly erred; by the third she was enabled to forget her own pains and sorrows in those of her Lord and to weep hourly but silently, over the memory of His wrongs. – Alban Butler, Lives of the Saints.
Veronica became accustomed to nearly constant apparitions and religious ecstasies. She saw scenes from the life of Christ, yet these never interrupted her work. She joined an Augustinian lay order at the convent of Saint Martha in Milan at the age of 22. She took the religious name Veronica, reflecting her devotion to the Passion of Christ.This community was very poor; Veronica’s job was to beg in the streets of the city for food.
She was known and respected by the secular and ecclesiastical leaders of her day. Several times Christ gave to her in prayer important messages which she carried to influential persons, such as the Duke of Milan and Pope Alexander VI.
Her spiritual life was intense. She was particularly devoted to the Eucharist and to the Suffering and Death of Jesus. She experienced physical mistreatment from the devil but found strength in prayer, remaining at peace and overcoming difficulties through the power of Christ. She cheerfully helped others when help was needed. In spite of her growing reputation for holiness and wisdom, Veronica remained humble.
After a six-month illness, Veronica died on the date she had predicted, 13 January 1497. So numerous were her admirers who came to pay their respects, her burial was delayed for nearly a week. Many sick persons who touched her body were restored to health. Her remains are preserved at the parish Church in Binasco.
She was Beatified in 1517 by Pope Leo X (cultus confirmed). In 1672, Pope Clement X extended the devotion to the entire Augustinian Order and in 1749 Pope Benedict XIV added Blessed Vernoica to the Roman Martyrology.
Panny Marie Vítězné / Our Lady of Victory, Prague, Czech Republic (1620), home of the Infant of Prague: 13 January: Among shrines dedicated to Our Lady of Victory, that at Prague has become world-famous because it is also the home of the Statue of the Infant of Prague.
The story of the Shrine is an unusual one. In 1620 the Austrian Emperor, Ferdinand II and Prince Maxmilian of Bavaria gained a major victory over a coalition of Protestant armies in the battle of the White Mountains near Prague. The previous day, Fr Dominic of Jesus-Maria, a Discalced Carmelite, had found, in the castle of Strakowicz, a picture representing the nativity of Christ. It showed the Blessed Virgin kneeling before her Divine Son, while St Joseph stood behind her holding a lantern. In the background were two shepherds. The Calvanists had shown their fanaticism, by piercing the eyes of Mary and her spouse, St Joseph. Carrying the picture to the camp, the Monk held it up and urged the soldiers to restore Mary’s honour. His words decided the hesitation of the generals and gave courage to the men. They adopted Mary’s name as their battle cry and Mary blessed their efforts. In the moment of success, they hailed the painting as Our Lady of Victory and carried it in triumph into Prague, where their leaders adorned it with rich jewels. In gratitude to God for his great success and in recognition of the help given by Father Dominic, Ferdinand II founded several Carmelite Monasteries, including one at Prague which was solemnly blessed under invocation of Our Lady of Victory. Before this time, however, Father Dominic had taken the picture of Our Lady of Victory to Rome where it was first venerated in the Basilica of St Mary Major, then carried – in the presence of Pope Gregory XV – to the Church of St Paul near the Carmelite convent, on 8 May 1622. Pope Paul V subsequently changed the name of the Church to Our Lady of Victory and the feast was officially inaugurated. The original painting was destroyed in a fire in 1833 and has been replaced by a copy. Another copy hangs in the church of Our Lady of Victory in Prague, in a building erected in 1706 replacing the earlier church. From the Shrine of Our Lady of Victory in Prague, came to the entire world the devotion to the Infant of Prague. Our need for Mary’s help continues as long as we live and so long, too, we need her guidance. The struggle between the forces of evil and the forces of good, will continue until the end of time. The devil, whose intelligence and power exceed those we can command in our own right, has an acute appreciation of the value of our souls bought with a great price. Our sure way to defeat him, is to range ourselves under Mary’s banner, to call on her to bring us victory and to acknowledge her, as Our Lady of Victory when she protects us from dangers and brings us triumphant through temptation.
St Agrecius of Trier St Andrew of Trier St Berno of Cluny St Ðaminh Pham Trong Kham St Designatus of Maastricht St Elian of Brittany St Emil Szramek St Enogatus of Aleth St Erbin of Cornwall Blessed Francesco Maria Greco (1857-1931) Blessed Francesco’s Life: https://anastpaul.com/2019/01/13/saint-of-the-day-13-january-blessed-francesco-maria-greco-1857-1931/ Bl Francisca Inés Valverde González St Giuse Pham Trong Ta St Glaphyra St Gumesindus of Córdoba St Hermylus Bl Hildemar of Arrouaise Bl Ida of Argensolles Bl Ivetta of Huy St Kentigern “Mungo” of Glasgow (c 518-614) About St Mungo: https://anastpaul.com/2020/01/13/saint-of-the-day-13-january-saint-kentigern-mungo-of-glasgow-518-614/ St Leontius of Caesarea St Luca Pham Trong Thìn Bl María Francisca Espejo y Martos Bl Matteo de Lana St Peter of Capitolíade St Servusdei of Córdoba St Stephen of Liège St Stratonicus Blessed Veronica of Binasco OSA (c 1445-1497) Virgin Mystic St Viventius St Vivenzio of Blera — Forty Martyred Soldiers at Rome: Forty soldiers martyred in the persecutions of Gallienus. They were martyred in 262 on the Via Lavicana, Rome, Italy.
Blessed Adalbero of Lambach (c 1010–1090) Bishop St Alberta of Agen Bl Artaldo of Belley St Aurea of Boves St Ceollach St Epiphania St Erotis St Faith of Agen St Francis Trung Von Tran Bl François Hunot Bl Isidore of Saint Joseph St Iwi St John Xenos Bl Juan de Prunera St Magnus of Orderzo St Mary Frances of the Five Wounds TOSF (1715-1791) Mystic, Stigmatist Her Life: https://anastpaul.com/2019/10/06/saint-of-the-day-6-october-saint-mary-frances-of-the-five-wounds-tosf-1715-1791/ St Pardulf St Renato of Sorrento St Romanus of Auxerre St Sagar of Laodicea — Martyrs of Capua – 4 saints: A group of martyrs who were either killed in Capua, Italy, or that’s where their relics were first enshrined. We now know nothing but their names – Aemilius, Castus, Marcellus and Saturninus.
Martyrs of Kyoto – 52 beati: Fifty-two Japanese lay people, some single, some married, some parents, some children, who were martyred together during one of the government sponsored persecutions of Christians.
Martyrs of Trier: Commemorates the large number of martyrs who died in Trier, Germany in the persecutions of Diocletian. 287 in Trier, Germany.
Saint of the Day – 15 September – St Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) Married laywoman, Mystic, Apostle of the sick, the poor and the needy, Writer – born in 1447 at Genoa, Italy as Caterina Fieschi Adorno and died on 15 September 1510 at Genoa, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – Brides, Childless Couples, Difficult Marriages, People Ridiculed For Their Piety, Temptations, Victims Of Adultery, Victims Of Infidelity. Her body is incorrupt and rests in a glass reliquary at the Capuchin Church in Genoa.
Catherine was born in Genoa in 1447. She was the youngest of five. Her father, Giacomo Fieschi, died when she was very young. Her mother, Francesca di Negro provided such an effective Christian education that the elder of her two daughters became a religious. When Catherine was 16, she was given in marriage to Giuliano Adorno, a man who after various trading and military experiences in the Middle East had returned to Genoa in order to marry.
Married life was far from easy for Catherine, partly because of the character of her husband who was given to gambling. Catherine herself, was at first induced to lead a worldly sort of life in which, however, she failed to find serenity. After 10 years, her heart was heavy with a deep sense of emptiness and bitterness. A unique experience on 20 March 1473 sparked her conversion. She had gone to the Church of San Benedetto in the monastery of Nostra Signora delle Grazie [Our Lady of Grace], to make her confession and, kneeling before the Priest, “received,” as she herself wrote, “a wound in my heart from God’s immense love.” It came with such a clear vision of her own wretchedness and shortcomings and at the same time of God’s goodness, that she almost fainted.
Her heart was moved by this knowledge of herself — knowledge of the empty life she was leading and of the goodness of God. This experience prompted the decision that gave direction to her whole life. She expressed it in the words: “no longer the world, no longer sin” (cf. Vita Mirabile, 3rv). Catherine did not stay to make her Confession. On arriving home she entered the remotest room and spent a long time weeping. At that moment she received an inner instruction on prayer and became aware of God’s immense love for her, a sinner. It was a spiritual experience she had no words to describe ( cf. Vita Mirabile, 4r).
It was on this occasion that the suffering Jesus appeared to her, bent beneath the Cross, as he is often portrayed in the Saint’s iconography. A few days later she returned to the Priest to make a good Confession at last. It was here, that began the “life of purification” which for many years caused her to feel constant sorrow for the sins she had committed and which spurred her to impose forms of penance and sacrifice upon herself, in order to show her love to God.
On this journey Catherine became ever closer to the Lord until she attained what is called “unitive life,” namely, a relationship of profound union with God. In her Vita it is written, that her soul was guided and instructed from within, solely by the sweet love of God, which gave her all she needed. Catherine surrendered herself so totally into the hands of the Lord that she lived, for about 25 years, as she wrote, “without the assistance of any creature, taught and governed by God alone” (Vita, 117r-118r), nourished above all by constant prayer and by Holy Communion which she received every day, an unusual practice in her time. Only many years later did the Lord give her a Priest who cared for her soul.
Catherine was always reluctant to confide and reveal her experience of mystical communion with God, especially because of the deep humility she felt before the Lord’s graces. The prospect of glorifying Him and of being able to contribute to the spiritual journey of others, alone spurred her, to recount what had taken place within her, from the moment of her conversion, which is her original and fundamental experience.
The place of her ascent to mystical peaks was Pammatone Hospital, the largest hospital complex in Genoa, of which she was director and animator. Hence Catherine lived a totally active existence despite the depth of her inner life. In Pammatone a group of followers, disciples and collaborators formed around her, fascinated by her life of faith and her charity. Indeed her husband, Giuliano Adorno, was so so won over, that he gave up his dissipated life, became a Third Order Franciscan and moved into the hospital to help his wife.
Catherine’s dedication to caring for the sick continued until the end of her earthly life on 15 September 1510. From her conversion until her death there were no extraordinary events but two elements characterise her entire life – on the one hand her mystical experience, that is, the profound union with God, which she felt as spousal union and on the other, assistance to the sick, the organisation of the hospital and service to her neighbour, especially the neediest and the most forsaken. These two poles, God and neighbour, totally filled her life, virtually all of which she spent within the hospital walls.
Dear friends, we must never forget that the more we love God and the more constantly we pray, the better we will succeed in truly loving those who surround us, who are close to us, so that we can see in every person the Face of the Lord whose love knows no bounds and makes no distinctions. The mystic does not create distance from others or, an abstract life but, rather approaches other people, so that they may begin to see and act with God’s eyes and heart.
Catherine’s thought on purgatory, for which she is particularly well known, is summed up in the last two parts of the book mentioned above – The Treatise on Purgatory and the Dialogues between the body and the soul. The first original passage concerns the “place” of the purification of souls. In her day, it was depicted mainly using images linked to space – a certain space was conceived of, in which purgatory was supposed to be located. Catherine, however, did not see purgatory as a scene in the bowels of the earth – for her it is not an exterior but rather an interior fire. This is purgatory – an inner fire. The Saint speaks of the Soul’s journey of purification on the way to full communion with God, starting from her own experience of profound sorrow for the sins committed, in comparison with God’s infinite love (cf. Vita Mirabile, 171v).
We heard of the moment of conversion when Catherine suddenly became aware of God’s goodness, of the infinite distance of her own life from this goodness and of a burning fire within her. And this is the fire that purifies, the interior fire of purgatory. Here too, is an original feature in comparison with the thought of her time. In fact, she does not start with the afterlife in order to recount the torments of purgatory — as was the custom in her time and perhaps still is today — and then to point out the way to purification or conversion. Rather our Saint begins with the inner experience of her own life on the way to Eternity.
“The soul,” Catherine says, “presents itself to God, still bound to the desires and suffering that derive from sin and this makes it impossible for it to enjoy the beatific vision of God.” Catherine asserts that God is so pure and holy, that a soul stained by sin, cannot be in the presence of the Divine Majesty (cf. Vita Mirabile, 177r).
We too feel how distant we are, how full we are of so many things that we cannot see God. The soul is aware of the immense love and perfect justice of God and consequently, suffers for having failed to respond in a correct and perfect way to this love and, love for God itself, becomes a flame, love itself cleanses it from the residue of sin.
In Catherine we can make out the presence of theological and mystical sources on which it was normal to draw in her time. In particular, we find an image typical of Dionysius the Areopagite – the thread of gold that links the human heart to God Himself. When God purified man, he bound him with the finest golden thread, that is, His love and draws him toward Himself with such strong affection, that man i,s as it were “overcome and won over and completely beside himself.” Thus man’s heart is pervaded by God’s love that becomes the one guide, the one driving force of his life (cf. Vita Mirabile, 246rv). This situation of being uplifted towards God and of surrender to His will, expressed in the image of the thread, is used by Catherine to express the action of divine light on the souls in purgatory, a light that purifies and raises them to the splendour of the shining radiance of God (cf. Vita Mirabile, 179r).
With her life, St Catherine teaches us that the more we love God and enter into intimacy with Him in prayer the more He makes Himself known to us, setting our hearts on fire with His love. In writing about purgatory, the Saint reminds us of a fundamental truth of faith that becomes for us an invitation to pray for the deceased, so that they may attain the beatific vision of God in the Communion of Saints.
Moreover, the humble, faithful and generous service in Pammatone Hospital that the Saint rendered throughout her life, is a shining example of charity for all and an encouragement, especially for women who, with their precious work enriched by their sensitivity and attention to the poorest and neediest, make a fundamental contribution to society and to the Church.
Catherine’s writings were examined by the Holy Office and declared to contain doctrine that would alone be enough to prove her sanctity and she was accordingly Beatified in 1675 by Pope Clement X and Canonised in 1737 by Pope Clement XII. Her writings also, became sources of inspiration for other religious leaders such as Robert Bellarmine and Francis de Sales and Cardinal Henry Edward Manning. Pope Pius XII declared her Patroness of the hospitals in Italy.
When she died, her body was placed in a coffin in the Chapel of the hospital where she had served so selflessly. The wooden coffin unfortunately suffered water damage, yet after it was removed, a year later, the body itself was found to be incorrupt. Her body was later transferred to the Capuchin Convent Annunziata di Portoria, near the centre of Genoa and can be viewed by the public, in the Church attached to the Convent.
St Porphyrius the Martyr St Ribert St Ritbert of Varennes Bl Rolando de Medici Bl Tommasuccio of Foligno St Valerian of Châlon-sur-Saône St Valerian of Noviodunum St Vitus of Bergamo Bl Wladyslaw Miegon — Martyrs of Adrianopolis – 3 saints: Three Christian men martyred together in the persecutions of Maximian – Asclepiodotus, Maximus and Theodore. They were martyred in 310 at Adrianopolis (Adrianople), a location in modern Bulgaria.
Martyrs of Noviodunum – 4 saints: Three Christian men martyred together, date unknown – Gordian, Macrinus, Stratone and Valerian. They were martyred in Noviodunum, Lower Moesia (near modern Isaccea, Romania).
Mercedarian Martyrs of Morocco – 6 beati: A group of six Mercedarians who were captured by Moors near Valencia, Spain and taken to Morocco. Though enslaved, they refused to stop preaching Christianity. Martyrs. – Dionisio, Francis, Ildefonso, James, John and Sancho. They were crucified in 1437 in Morocco.
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War: Bl Antonio Sierra Leyva Bl Pascual Penades Jornet
Quote/s of the Day – 23 July – the Memorial of St John Cassian (c 360- c 435), St Bridget of Sweden (c 1303 – 1373)
“Whoever has achieved love has God within himself and his intellect is always with God.”
“No structure of virtue can possibly be raised in our soul unless, first, the foundations of true humility are laid in our heart.”
“The thief on the cross certainly did not receive the Kingdom of Heaven as a reward for his virtues but as a grace and a mercy from God. He can serve as an authentic witness that our salvation is given to us only by God’s mercy and grace. All the holy masters knew this and unanimously taught that perfection in holiness can be achieved only through humility.”
St John Cassian (c 360- c 435)
“O Lord, make haste and illumine the night. Say to my soul that nothing happens without You permitting it and that nothing of what You permit, is without comfort.”
“There is no sinner in the world, however much at enmity with God, who cannot recover God’s grace, by recourse to Mary and by asking her assistance.”
Quote/s of the Day – 19 July – “Month of the Most Precious Blood” – The Sixteenth Sunday of the Year in Ordinary Time, Year A, Readings: Wisdom 12:13, 16-19, Psalm 86:5-6,9-10, 15-16, Romans 8:26-27, Matthew 13:24-43
“Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom, all causers of sin and all law-breakers and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
“Every man will receive the eternal punishment, or reward which his actions deserve. Indeed, if all men recognised this, no-one would choose evil even for a short time, knowing that he would incur the eternal sentence of fire. On the contrary, he would take every means to control himself and to adorn himself in virtue, so that he might obtain the good gifts of God and escape the punishments.”
St Justin Marytr (100-165)
Father of the Church and Martyr
“Then shall those, already in the midst of the torments, cry out with pleading voices and there will be no-one to speak for them to the Lord and they shall not be heard.”
St Ephrem (306-373)
Father and Doctor of the Church
“I am filled with fear and trembling and all my bones are shaken, at the thought of that unhappy country of the damned.”
St Bernard (1090-1153)
Mellifluous Doctor of the Church
“So then, I am speaking to you who live in the habit of mortal sin, in hatred, in the mire of the vice of impurity and who are getting closer to hell each day. Stop! and turn around; it is Jesus who calls you and who, with His wounds, as with so many eloquent voices, cries to you, “My son, if you are damned, you have only yourself to blame: ‘Thy damnation comes from thee.’ Lift up your eyes and see all the graces with which I have enriched you to insure your eternal salvation.'”
St Leonard of Port Maurice (1676-1751)
“Poor Judas! Above  years have elapsed since he has been in Hell and his Hell is still only beginning.”
St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787)
Most Zealous Doctor of the Church
“Meditate on the horrors of Hell, which will last for eternity because of one easily-committed mortal sin. Try hard to be among the few who are chosen. Think of the eternal flames of Hell and how few there are that are saved.”
“I was watching souls going down into the abyss, as thick and fast as snowflakes, falling in the winter mist.”
St Benedict Joseph Labre (1748-1783)
“I tremble when I see so many souls lost these days. See, they fall into Hell, as leaves fall from the trees at the approach of winter.”
St John Marie Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859)
“The natural fire that we see during this life has great power to burn and torment. Yet this is not even a shadow of the fire of Hell.”
Saint of the Day – 18 June – Saint Elisabeth of Schönau (1129-1164) Abbess, Mystic, Ascetic, Writer, Spiritual Adivisor – born in 1126 in Bingen, Germany and died on 18 June 1164 at Bingen, Germany of natural causes.
In the mid 12th century, Elisabeth of Schönau blurred the conventional gender roles of the time, through the dissemination of her astonishing visions. Elisabeth lived during a time when women were viewed as the weaker sex, both mentally and physically. Unless a woman were to join a convent or a religious movement, she would be expected to marry and to bear children. Elisabeth of Schönau, however, was far from powerless, as her visions led her to acquire enough fame to be known far and wide. Elisabeth became, not only a local celebrity as a result of her visions but, gained popularity throughout other parts of Germany, as well as in France and England. This enabled Elisabeth to have her own voice, to be known as an individual and to be sought after in an effort to acquire heavenly advice by high order men, including Bishops and Abbots. For men of such high order to call upon Elisabeth, a mere woman, is extremely significant given the time period in which Elisabeth lived. Elisabeth’s visions, as well as her twenty-two letters to Bishops, Abbots and Abbesses, enabled her to transcend the traditional gender roles of the time by making her widely known and giving her an individual voice.
Elisabeth was born about 1129, of an obscure noble family named Hartwig. At the age of 12 she was given to the nuns for education in the St Florin double abbey founded a few years earlier. At the age of 18 she entered the women’s Congregation. She made her profession as a Benedictine in 1147. In 1157 she became Abbess of the nuns under the supervision of Abbot Hildelin.
Her hagiography describes her as given to works of piety from her youth, much afflicted with bodily and mental suffering, a zealous observer of the Rule of Saint Benedict and of the regulation of her convent and devoted to practices of mortification. In the years 1147 to 1152 Elisabeth suffered recurrent disease, anxiety and depression as a result of her strict asceticism. St Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) Doctor of the Church admonished Elisabeth in letters to be prudent in the ascetic life. St Hildegard here: https://anastpaul.com/2018/09/17/saint-of-the-day-17-september-st-hildegard-von-bingen-osb-1098-1179-doctor-of-the-church/
At Pentecost in 1152, she first had spiritual experiences of a visionary nature, which she and the nuns and monks understood as the authentic message of God. These generally occurred on Sundays and Holy Days at Mass or Divine Office or after hearing or reading the lives of Saints. Christ, the Virgin Mary, an angel, or the special Saint of the day would appear to her and instruct her; or she would see quite realistic representations of the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension, or other scenes of the Old and New Testaments.
She died on 18 June 1164 at the age of only 35 and was buried in the St Florin Abbey Church. It is extremely remarkable that she was not buried in the Monastery cemetery or in the Chapel of the nuns but in a prominent place in the Abbey Church itself. This was unusual and testifies to absolute acceptance of her mystical life, writings and deep veneration. There has never been a formal Canonisation process (pre-congregation) but every year on the day after her death, that is, on 19 June her memory is celebrated in the Monastery and surrounding towns. It was not until the late 16th century that she was officially included in the list of Saints at the request of the Archbishop of Mainz and the monks of Schönau (Martyrologium Romanum).
What Elisabeth saw and heard she put down on wax tablets. Her Abbot, Hildelin, told her to relate these things to her brother Eckbert, then a cleric at Saint Cassius in Bonn, who acted as an editor. At first she hesitated fearing lest she be deceived or be looked upon as a deceiver but she obeyed. Eckbert (who became a Monk of Schönau in 1155 and eventually succeeded Hildelin as second Abbot) put everything in writing, later arranged the material at leisure and then published all under his sister’s name.
While this relationship between brother and sister allowed for Elisabeth’s wide broadcasting of her visionary experiences, it is evident that Eckbert attempted to have a degree of authority over Elisabeth. Elisabeth’s response to Eckbert’s efforts regarding certain visions is just one example of how Elisabeth’s actions blurred the conventional gender roles. The works are published in English in a Collected Works edition.
Schönau Monastery is a popular place of pilgrimage today. The Franciscan Minor Monastery is picturesquely situated in the Saale Valley in a river arch on the Franconian Saale. Steep mountain slopes flank the Monastery and the small town of Schönau.
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